Krishnattam

Definition

Theater

  • (Malayalam: stories of Krishna) A form of Indian dance-dramafrom the state of Kerala. Raja Manaveda, a Zamorin king, created theform in the 17th century to glorify Vishnu's incarnation as Krishna.Manaveda wrote the eight plays of the repertory, which dramatize eventsfrom the life of Krishna described in the Bhagavata Purana.Performances take place in the courtyard of the Guruvayur Temple forpilgrims with a special seating area being reserved for non-Hindus.Many of the all-male performers were given as young boys in serviceto the temple by their parents. Krishnattam has also touredIndia and played at both European and US venues.

    For a fee, pilgrims can request a particular play, with favouritesbeing Krishna's marriage, his miraculous birth, and his destructionof the wicked King Kamsa. Only rarely is the whole cycle of eightplays performed. When it is, the play about Krishna's birth must beacted at both the beginning and end of the cycle because it is considereda bad omen to end with his death. As in Kathakali, danceand gesture are used to tell the stories; both forms also share aflamboyant colourful style of costumes.

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